NMA demands 10pc of total budget for health sector

Kathmandu, May 7

Nepal Medical Association today submitted a 23-point memorandum to the Minister of Health and Population Bhanubhakta Dhakal, putting forth a charter of demands in relation to the upcoming fiscal budget and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The umbrella organisation of medical and dental doctors demanded at least 10 per cent of the total budget for health sector as per the standard set by World Health Organisation. “We also want the government to formulate necessary laws, including Health Services Act, to make separate provision on the formation, operation of federal health service related to appointment of medical practitioners to ensure that the general public exercise their right to health as articulated by the constitution,” read the memorandum.

“We demand that the government implement the Integrated Health Infrastructure Development Project by addressing the liabilities of all three tiers of government in conformity with the federal set-up for classification of health facilities, projection of need for human resources and construction and development of health infrastructure,” it read.

NMA has underscored the need to conduct partnership programmes between the government and private health institutions for expansion of quality health services. It has also urged the government to formulate and implement Health Institution Quality Authority Act to determine the quality of health service to be provided by the government, non-government and private health facilities.

“The government has to arrange necessary physical infrastructure and resources to deliver specialised health services from at least one hospital in each province. It is also necessary to ensure adequate infrastructure and medical equipment at tertiary hospitals for specialised health services and provide postgraduate programme in medical education at tertiary hospitals without charging fee to avoid shortage of medical specialists,” NMA said.

Its other demands include adoption of special policy to encourage doctors and health workers deputed to remote areas; provision of transparent procurement process of medical equipment and kits as per WHO guidelines; assurance of timely maintenance and upgradation of such equipment; appointment of doctors from the ninth level in line with the standards of other SAARC countries; increase the posts of doctors as per the federal set up; review facilities of doctors and adjust existing 15 per cent of tax deducted at source as the final tax.

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, NMA has demanded compulsory health insurance and Personal Protective Equipment for all doctors and health workers, who are at the frontline. It has also urged the government to establish National Disease Control Centre and construct a 1,000-bed hospital for prevention and control of infectious disease and management of health-related disaster, besides announcement of special relief package for the health sector.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on May 8, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.